Category Archives: Health Care

Cost-Saving and Cost-Containment Strategies for New York State's Local Governments

Source: Thomas P. DiNapoli, Office of the State Comptroller, Division Of Local Government And School Accountability, June 2009

A number of cost-saving strategies are highlighted in the following pages, including:
• Computer Power Management
• Energy Audits
• Energy Performance Contracting
• Municipal Vehicles
• Wind and Solar Energy Production
• Wastewater and Sewage Treatment Facilities
• Street Lighting
• Payments in Lieu of Health Insurance Benefits
• Mail-order prescription drug options
• Medicaid fraud-detection software
• Co-pay rebate program
• Cook-Chill Food Preparation
• Telemedicine
• Alternative Incarceration

Hidden Health Tax: Americans Pay a Premium

Source: Kathleen Stoll and Kim Bailey, Families USA, May 2009

When the uninsured do obtain care, they struggle to pay as much as they can afford. Often, however, the uninsured cannot afford to pay the entire bill, and a portion of it goes uncompensated. To make up for these uncompensated care costs, doctors and hospitals charge insurers more for the services provided to patients who do have health coverage. In turn, the costs that are shifted to insurers are passed on in the form of higher premiums to consumers and businesses that purchase health coverage.

This cost shift to health insurance premiums is a “hidden health tax.” To quantify this “tax,” Families USA contracted with Milliman, Inc., an independent actuarial consulting firm, to analyze federal Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data and data from other federal and private sources. Based on these data, Milliman estimated the total national cost of uncompensated care provided to the uninsured, and it quantified that amount spread across the privately covered, non-Medicare, non-Medicaid population.
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Key findings
Press release

Study Links Medical Costs and Personal Bankruptcy

Source: Catherine Arnst, Business Week, June 4, 2009

Medical problems caused 62% of all personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. in 2007, according to a study by Harvard researchers. And in a finding that surprised even the researchers, 78% of those filers had medical insurance at the start of their illness, including 60.3% who had private coverage, not Medicare or Medicaid.

Roadblocks to Health Care: Why the Current Health Care System Does Not Work for Women

Source: Meena Seshamani, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,, 2009

From the press release:
The report shows how our current system is leaving millions of women without the affordable, quality care they need.

Roadblocks to Health Care reports:
– 21 million women and girls are uninsured.
– In the individual insurance market, women are often charged higher premiums than men during their reproductive years. Holding other factors constant, a 22 year-old woman can be charged one and a half times the premium of a 22 year-old man.
– In a recent national survey, more than half of women (52 percent) reported delaying or avoiding needed care because of cost, compared with 39 percent of men.

To Err is Human – To Delay is Deadly

Source: Consumers Union, May 2009

From the press release:
Ten years ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) sounded the alarm about the widespread toll of medical errors in a groundbreaking report call “To Err is Human.” The report prompted a rush of congressional hearings and promises of reform. But in the decade since the report was published, little progress has been made implementing key reforms recommended by the IOM to improve patient safety, according to Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.

In a new report issued today, “To Err is Human – To Delay is Deadly,” Consumers Union detailed the lack of progress since the IOM estimated in 1999 that as many as 98,000 Americans die every year from preventable medical errors. Consumers Union’s report was released as lawmakers in Congress are working on legislation to address the rising cost of health care and expand access to coverage. Consumers Union maintains that reducing medical harm — including hospital-acquired infections and medication errors — would not only improve patient care but also provide significant costs savings to help make expanded access to health coverage possible.

Trends in Underinsurance and the Affordability of Employer Coverage, 2004-2007

Source: Jon R. Gabel, Roland McDevitt, Ryan Lore, Jeremy Pickreign, Heidi Whitmore, Tina Ding, Health Affairs, Vol. 28 no. 4, published online: 2 June 2009
(subscription required)

Out-of-pocket health care expenses for workers covered by employer-sponsored plans grew by more than one-third between 2004 and 2007, according to a Commonwealth Fund-supported study in Health Affairs. The higher costs are particularly burdensome for people who are sick or have modest incomes.

Too Great a Burden: Americans Face Rising Health Care Costs

Source: Families USA, April 2009

From the summary:
To better understand the magnitude of the health care cost crisis, Families USA commissioned The Lewin Group to analyze data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Census Bureau that reveal how many Americans face very high health care costs. This analysis allowed us to determine how many non-elderly people are in families that will spend more than 10 percent of their pre-tax income, and more than 25 percent of their pre-tax income, on health care in 2009.
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Key Findings

Nationwide Frequency and Costs of Potentially Preventable Hospitalizations, 2006

Source: H. Joanna Jiang, C. Allison Russo, and Marguerite L. Barrett, Healthcare Cost And Utilization Project, Statistical Brief #72, April 2009

Hospital care represents the largest component of overall health care expenditures. Some hospitalizations can be potentially prevented with timely and effective ambulatory care. High admission rates for these potentially preventable conditions may indicate a need for improvements in access to ambulatory care and in the quality of care provided, as well as in patient adoption of healthy lifestyles and active self-management of chronic conditions. Thus, reducing the frequency of potentially preventable hospitalizations would be an effective strategy for lowering costs while improving quality of care and patient outcomes.

This Statistical Brief presents national data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) on rates and total costs of potentially preventable hospitalizations. Distribution of the total costs by payer is also examined. Lastly, comparisons of potentially preventable hospitalization rates by median income level of patient’s ZIP Code are presented. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)’s Prevention Quality Indicators (PQIs)3 are used to identify hospitalizations for select chronic and acute conditions in adults and children for 2006. All differences between estimates noted in the text are statistically significant at the 0.05 level or better.

Meeting Enrollees’ Needs: How Do Medicare And Employer Coverage Stack Up?

Source: Karen Davis, Stuart Guterman, Michelle M. Doty, and Kristof M. Stremikis, Health Affairs Web Exclusive, May 12, 2009
(subscription required)

From the press release:
Elderly Medicare beneficiaries are more satisfied with their health care, and experience fewer problems accessing and paying for care, than Americans with employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), according to a study by Commonwealth Fund researchers published today on the Health Affairs Web site.
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